Socialists to oppose privatisation in Tas election

The Socialist Alliance is running two candidates in the Tasmanian state election on March 15. Whether Labor or the Liberals form government after March 15, Tasmanians can expect to see “prioritising of big business over the interests of the general public and the continuing privatising of essential public services,” Jenny Forward, the Socialist Alliance's candidate for the electorate of Franklin, told Green Left Weekly. Shaine Stephen, candidate for Denison, said: “The Liberals have promised to deliver 10,000 jobs in their first term by slashing red and green tape, in other words destroying environmental protections and workers rights.” The Labor-Greens government began the process of privatising the state-owned electricity utility. But the Socialist Alliance is calling for public ownership of all essential services. It is calling for scrapping water and sewerage charges, which were introduced only recently in the state. The recent beginnings of exploration for unconventional onshore gas in the state also rate a mention. The party is calling for “an energy future based on renewables and green jobs, with no fracking in Tasmania.” One of the campaigns strongly supported by the Socialist Alliance over recent years has been against the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley. Stephen said: “The pulp mill issue has reared its head again. Labor will introduce legislation to remove doubts about the permits, thus preventing any legal challenges from environment and community organisations.” Stephen said the party is still discussing whether it would support the continuation of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement. “We felt that it was not democratic and excluded key sections of the community such as the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre,” he said. Forward said she wants her candidacy to help “build an independent and grassroots resistance that places the environment and people before profit.” She said that voting for the Socialist Alliance sends a strong message in favour of that goal, while still allowing the voter's full preference to flow on to whichever of the three big parties they prefer. “Vote for a progressive alternative by voting for Socialist Alliance and join us in the struggle for a better world,” she said. - Ben Courtice/Green Left Weekly